A red diamond-shaped sign displaying "family" and a green horizontal sign displaying "foyer" hangs in commercial hallway to signify the entrance to the respite area

With its moderate weather, California is home to some show-stopping outdoor malls. But shopping can be exhausting, and customers are often grateful to discover areas of respite from occasional inclement weather or after hours of store hopping, especially around the holidays. Stuart MacDonald and Lauren Holiday of Federal Realty catered to that need when creating the Family Foyer at the Santana Row residential and commercial district in San Jose, California.

With Architectural Dimensions’ design team and VCA Green’s LEED Services, the Family Foyer’s entry foyer, two family rooms, a restroom, two changing rooms and playroom offers a sanctuary for shoppers with myriad needs. The space, which previously served as a restaurant outfit that couldn’t hold a consistent tenant, is built of sustainable materials, provides enhanced indoor air quality and boasts optimal energy performance as a result of its LEED Certification, awarded in 2022.


Rating system: LEED v4 Interior Design & Construction: Commercial Interiors
Certification level, point total, certification date: SILVER (53 points) certified 11/9/2022
Gross floor area: 902 sf
Construction type: Commercial rest area
Credit highlights:

• Location & Transportation: full points for local resources and surrounding density
• Water Efficiency: all plumbing fixtures utilize low-flow/high-efficiency technology
• Energy & Atmosphere: Renewable Energy Credits offset energy use
• Materials & Resources: full points for material ingredients
• Indoor Environmental Quality: enhanced air quality strategies achieved


Federal Realty Vice President of Sustainability Emily McLachlan said the company tries to pursue LEED certification for every asset to demonstrate that the company takes sustainability seriously while also meeting corporate ESG goals and reaping financial perks, such as green bonds, that are awarded to LEED-certified properties.

The Family Foyer is a monument to Federal Realty’s commitment to sustainability no matter what size the asset is, as the company partnered with VCA Green and poured hours of work into achieving LEED Silver on just a 902-square-foot space.

Though Federal Realty aims for the highest certification level for each project, and often reaches Gold, Emily stressed a bigger importance to balancing the certification level with the cost and value of additional points. “Our credit approaches were intentional,” she said.

The Family Foyer offers a number of amenities, including a children’s playroom, bathrooms, and a kitchenette.


Location and Transportation
The Family Foyer is situated in the heart of the Santana Row shopping and residential complex. Those utilizing the Foyer automatically have walking-distance access to shopping, barber shops, athletic studios, cafés and more, awarding this project full points in the surrounding density and diverse uses credit.

Water Efficiency
Faucets in both the bathrooms and kitchen contain aerators designed to create a flow rate of 0.35 gallons per minute, while WaterSense Toto toilets installed feature a 1.0 gallon per flush rate. These fixtures reduce the site’s water consumption by 40% from baseline calculations.

Energy and Atmosphere
The Family Foyer has eschewed natural gas for all-electric building operations, decreasing the space’s emissions. With energy-saving equipment and LED lighting, the total building energy savings are 9 percent higher than the LEED baseline. Going above and beyond many projects to offset their energy use, ownership also purchased Renewable Energy Credits from a wind farm in Oklahoma.

Materials and Resources
The design and LEED team dug deep into material transparency for this project, achieving both the Environmental Product Declaration and Material Ingredients credits under Building Product Disclosure. Substantial evidence collected demonstrates that the space contains 13 permanently installed products that each contribute to a decrease in global warming potential and have a chemical inventory of less than 1000 ppm, creating healthier air quality for all occupants.

Plus, ownership installed a comprehensive cabinet waste system with clear labels for both construction and operational waste. Recycling receptacles for paper, cardboard, glass, plastics, metals, batteries, and e-waste give occupants clear cut waste diversion options to reduce materials sent to the landfill.

Indoor Environmental Quality
The Family Foyer features multiple enhanced indoor air quality strategies, including entryway systems designed to catch dirt and other contamination particles that are often tracked through main entries. Ventilation rates in the space are 30% above typical occupied spaces, and carbon dioxide monitoring maintains a safe environment for Family Foyer users.

Any LEED project should be an asset to the community. The Santana Row Family Foyer transformed an underutilized area into an environment that removes the panic that accompanies crowded baby changing rooms, provides a relaxing atmosphere for shopping breaks and stimulates younger creative minds suffering from “parental errand fatigue.”

“As a new mom, I have noticed there’s a huge lack of clean, comfortable, all-inclusive spaces to regroup or when we’re feeding or entertaining children, so taking your child into the public can be stressful at times,” Lauren Holiday, a project manager at Federal Realty, said. “We’ve created an environment that is helpful to families, and hopefully that will encourage them to keep coming back.”

With clean air, efficient water and energy operations, and an intentional design the Family Foyer is a sustainable and purposeful addition to the Santana Row district.

Robyn Vettraino, VCA Green Principal and Lead Project Manager for the Santana Row Family Foyer project
Dani Grace, Contributing Writer